My first European art house film. What a way to introduce myself to the genre. Wings of Desire (or if you prefer the original German title Der Himmel über Berlin which translates to The Heaven Over Berlin) was released in 1987 and aesthetically resembles cinema of the 1960's, to highlight the viewpoint of the main characters and the ordinary tragedies they have witnessed since the dawn of time. This film is surprisingly secular and wonderfully intimate, granting us a welcomed unusual protagonist who wants to experience life for all of its pleasures and woes, rather than solely for the pleasures despite the woes.
We witness the experiences of two immortal angels, Damiel and Cassiel (played by Bruno Ganz and Otto Sander), who observe, listen to the thoughts of, and attempt to bring comfort to the Human race, but they cannot control any of its outcomes. This is the only Movie I have seen that explores what a hardship it can be to be telepathic, to know how fears can dominate the minds of everyone, even to the point of an angel's occasional failure in trying to bring one of them comfort.
As I said earlier, director Wim Wender aesthetically has the film resemble the 1960’s, with a harsher tone of the lens and black and white film to represent how our main characters see our world and the pain it can cause them as much as it causes us. There is beauty in all of it to our main character, Damiel, though. And after millions of years of existing "to testify day by day for eternity", he longs to become human himself; to live for "now and no longer, forever and for eternity".
His longing becomes action when he falls in love from afar with a French trapeze artist by the name of Marion. She is beautiful, unsure of her future, yet confident in her own desires. She is the catalyst that convinces Damiel to finally tether himself to the earth. The problem is though, the only guarantee that life can offer him is that he will not achieve everything he wants. Marion may not love him back, that is, if he is able to find her. But to experience heartbreak in this world is still to experience this world, and Damiel embraces the risk.
When we see the world through the eyes of the angels, we see it through a hazy, black and white lens, where the need for comfort from the humans stands out like a bright neon light in the night time. In many respects, it is a safe existence that the angels live, one devoid of evil or personal sorrows, but one also devoid of passion and personal fulfillment. Our human characters see the world through a lens equally as hazy, yet colorful; where even the troubles of life can be illuminated and beautiful through the simple act of being a part of life. The main flaw that the humans suffer from in this movie is that they forget that they are seeing the world in color.
Wings of Desire is not for everyone. It is a heavily stylized project that tends to drag on a bit especially for those who are not used to seeing movies like this (at least I think so given that I myself have not seen a movie like it before). But it is a movie with gorgeous images and emotional ideas, and it is definitely worth at least one viewing in the life of a movie buff. I definitely recommend it.